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RI seeks more input on proposed Memorial Hospital closure

Rhode Island health officials held a second public hearing to give people another opportunity to tell them how closing Memorial Hospital in Pawtucket would impact the community. (WJAR){ }

Rhode Island health officials held a second public hearing Monday to give people another opportunity to tell them how closing Memorial Hospital in Pawtucket would impact the community.

The state Department of Health organized the meeting, which took place at Pawtucket's Elizabeth Baldwin School, a few days after the department announced that it ordered the hospital to stop admitting new patients and performing surgeries, citing safety issues and quality of care.

"We've done that because we didn't want to be pressured either way to make a decision,” Joseph Wendelken, a spokesman for the Department of Health, told NBC 10 News. “We really want to let this process run its course and be extremely thorough and that's why we are here tonight -- to get as much community feedback as we can.”

A Care New England spokesperson said the health system is still committed to making primary and family care services available in the long term, regardless of the Department of Health's ruling.

"Let's be clear, this is not something we want. We wanted to try and make sure we have a thriving community hospital, but what happened is, the community has spoken and chosen to their car elsewhere." Jim Beardsworth said.

Many attendees at the first meeting pleaded for the hospital to remain open, saying nearby residents may not be able to travel to other hospitals. Others said hospital closings reflect the changing health care industry.

Care New England took over the struggling hospital in 2013. Plans to close the hospital were recently announced, but require state approval.

Pawtucket Mayor Donald Grebien told NBC 10 he hopes the department makes a decision that's best for the entire community.

(NBC 10 News contributed to this report.)

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